Books changing futures in Kenya

22nd January 2020 | Blog

35-year-old Nehemiah grew up in Kenya’s Baringo County, a largely rural area over 200km from Nairobi.

Many people in Baringo County are farmers relying solely on subsistence farming. In many parts, poverty and food shortages are high.

Nehemiah lives 5km away from Kabarnet town where there’s a library he has used for his whole life.

Without access to the books in the library, Nehemiah believes that he wouldn’t be where he is today – working as an accountant.

Here, he tells us about the difference that books you have helped to send are making for him and many others in the local area.

Kabarnet town
Nehemiah believes books have an important role to play in the lives of people of every age and stage

The library has given me a direction.

“I’ve been using this library for about the last 20 years since I was in primary school and I would say this library has really made a difference in my life. It has enabled me to be where I am today – I am a certified public accountant.

In school, accessing books was a bit of a challenge but at least when I came to the library I could find the books here.

Kabarnet Children's Corner
The children’s section – now a Children’s Corner where Nehemiah used books to support his education

The library has given me a direction and focussed my energies and enabled me to go through primary school and high school and even college and even for my professional studies in accountancy.

I also read for pleasure and to get to know what is happening in my field in accountancy and finance. These books have really opened up my world to know so many things professionally and socially and current developments in my profession and even in general in my country.

If these books had not been here, then I would not be where I am now.

If these books had not been here, then I would not be where I am now because it is through the resources that are available here I’ve been able to study for my exams and also qualify. First of all I did my undergraduate in business administration and then I did the certified public accountancy examinations and I also studied my Masters in Business Administration. All using books at this library.

Books are a necessity.

Because of the challenges that are present in rural areas where maybe the poverty level and unemployment are high, people are not giving priority to books. People are fighting for their basic needs for food, shelter, clothing and the like so books are really on the periphery.

But I think books are very important because, for example, farmers can learn so many things from books; they can improve their farms and even make them into businesses – not just for subsistence but agri-business.

Kabarnet Library adult section
Nehemiah continues to use the library to read for pleasure and keep his accounting knowledge and skills up-to-date

And also these books can help in terms of employment creation – self employment. Because rather than just looking for jobs, through these books people can get life skills. There are books here on technical skills for example carpentry, plumbing, even management, business skills and through them they can learn some skills they can use to be self-employed and run their own businesses.

So books are a necessity. It really adds value to an individual’s life.

Books are really making a difference in the lives of the people of Baringo.

Books are really making a difference in the lives of the people of Baringo. During the days of my parents, I think it was quite a challenge but for my generation and even the young people today, there has been a great improvement in the transition rates from primary to high school, even to college. And one of the things that has contributed is the availability of the library and books within the local area.

Kabarnet library reading activity
Nehemiah says the growing reading culture in Baringo is evident especially in the school holidays when the library is packed!

There’s a growing reading culture here and across Kenya and we want to continue developing and sustaining that reading culture, especially in the younger generation. If we continue like that, we’ll be taking our country to greater heights in terms of development economically, socially.

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